Remembering Becky Felton

from the Peace & Justice Committee of Eastern District and Franconia Conferences

Becky FeltonThe 2012 Peace Mug Award for Franconia and Eastern District Conferences, announced at the  joint fall Conference Assembly, honors Becky Felton, who passed away peacefully on November 2, 2012 after a courageous struggle with cancer.

Becky was a persistent advocate for peace and justice in her congregation, Perkasie Mennonite Church, in her community, and with the Peace & Justice Committee. Wayne Nitzsche, her pastor, described Becky as a congregational peacemaker in many ways.  “Perkasie has a worship ritual of lighting a peace lamp as we recite our pledge to be peacemakers. Becky urged us to consider and pray for peace locally and globally. She invited the congregation to participate in peace retreats and walks and brought needs for peace to our attention,” he reflected.  “But most importantly, Becky modeled the way of Jesus in her relationships in the congregation and beyond.”

Becky organized an intergenerational “Faith in Action” Sunday school class to keep peace and justice issues in front of the congregation.  The bi-monthly class has taken.on issues like The DREAM Act, hunger and homelessness, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Becky suggested topics for the class and sometimes recommended or invited guest speakers. Faith in Action is not only about education, but also invites everyone to act.  “She made us write letters and make phone calls –  to help us speak our own little peace” to situations of oppression and conflict, one friend remembered.

Becky also faced her terminal illness with peace, knowing that she was at peace with God and with others.

Jason Hedrick,  Peace and Justice Committee chairperson, described Becky as “a pillar of the committee and a mentor. She created space for me to learn and grow from the time I first started to serve on the committee and even more so when I took over the role as chair. Her life modeled what it meant to work for peace; to consider those who were marginalized, both within our own community and outside; to take the time to listen to those who had differing view points; and to challenge others to grow, to take action. Mostly, though, she was a friend. What better way is there to work towards peace in the world than to be a friend to someone?”

Those who knew her well describe Becky as a champion of peace and justice,  at peace with God  and  at  peace  with others.   Becky served the Peace & Justice Committee as secretary, as financial secretary, and, for the past ten years, as registrar for our annual Winter Peace Retreat.   But because of her broad understanding of current peace and social justice issues and her character, these roles don’t adequately describe her presence and her leadership, both in her congregation and with us on the Peace & Justice Committee. She was aware, compassionate, proactive.

peace mug presentation
Jason Hedrick & Samantha Lioi from the Peace & Justice Committee present the peace mug to Becky’s husband Jon and children Cody & Torey. Photo by Kreg D. Ulery.

“We appreciated her sense of humor,” noted Samanthi Lioi, the conferences’ minister of peace and justice, “because it’s really easy, especially for peace people, to take ourselves too seriously. Just by who she was, Becky steered us clear of that. And her pragmatic questions and focus on specific action was indispensable as a balance for the idealism and big ideas of some others of us. It was a fruitful balance – vision shaped by attention to planning and details. Thinking of Becky’s efficiency, and her way of getting huge amounts of work done–while being friendly about it!, I’m humbled…and reminded how deeply we need each other as we go about joining God’s birthing of shalom in the world. While we feel deep gratitude as a committee for Becky’s way of nurturing peace among us, I’m not sure we know how much we’re going miss her.”

Peace Mugs, provided by the Peace and Justice Support Network  of Mennonite Church USA, are awarded by our Peace & Justice Committee to honor  those among us who demonstrate a life-long commitment to peace and justice.  Find out more about the Peace & Justice Committee on their website.